Today's Genetically Modified Food
-OR- A flounder and a tomato walk into a bar...
Why is a nice vegetable like you acting this way?
The sun has arrived and the garden is beautiful. Big lush green leaves everywhere. The scent of blossoms riding on the breeze while busy bee's zip from bloom to bloom instigating nature to do her best. The vegetables sprout out and into view. We wait patiently for them to ripen and invigorate our taste buds with minerals and vitamins.
Within our local grocery store we begin to see a greater variety of vegetables goodness perched on display tables and in bins for our choosing. These fresh crisp marvels nourish our bodies as well as our souls, alas the spring has brought with her the vegetable wonders we thrive upon!
Why Do We Eat Vegetables
Who Started Eating Vegetables First
With the arrival of our green, yellow and red wonders of nature comes the query as to who started eating these things to begin with? How did they know which were good and which were bad? I understand the inviting beauty of a big red apple as it taps Sir Isac Newton on the noggin' or the juicy sweetness of a pear resting among the slick green leaves, but who was brave enough to eat the first zucchini or radish? Who first tugged a carrot top from the earth and thought, "Hm-mm, this looks tasty and it doesn't look dangerous at all. It even smells yummy, let's eat it!". Personally I may have passed on the consumption of the carotene powerhouse on appearance alone. Some of the vegetables we eat, to this day, are hiding dark secrets about there goodness and caustic behavior. Those divine nutritional entities we dine on daily and greet so eagerly each summer have untold stories regarding Vegetables and the Secrets they Keep!
A few things about mother natures seasonal gifts may surprise you. A couple may shock you. But I know at least one will make you tip-toe around the kitchen when a box of baking soda and vegetables land on the same counter-top! Here you are offered 10 need-to-know vegetable secrets you will want to share with your family and friends.
What You Think Really Matters!
Which of these are you most willing to eat?
10 Vegetable Facts
1. PARSNIPS HAVE AN A-PEELING DEMAND
Parsnips must be cleaned, peeled and cooked to eliminate particular toxins that through laboratory testing have been found to readily cause cancer in lab animals. The perpetrator toxins are called 'psorelens '. Compounds made form the psoralens have been used in the medical industry to help heal serious skin disorders. The element is also found in the seeds of other tasty stuff including parsley, common figs and celery, although these items contain less significant amounts than parsnips. So, just be sure to clean, peel and cook your parsnips and everything will be just fine.
2. CAUSES JOINT PAIN?
A few foods that are high in 'solanine' are potatoes, tomatoes, red and green bell peppers, eggplant, and paprika. Solanine was studied by a group attending Rutgers University which uncovered the issue of joint pain. When eaten, these foods increased joint pain in arthritis suffers. When these foods were eliminated or reduced from their diets the joint pain was reduced as well.
- A more flavorful popcorn that will not require salt.
- Garlic grown with a higher allicin count to reduce cholesterol.
Genetically engineered foods are genetically altered foods that we consume today. These foods are hybrid versions of our traditional delicacies. Scientists modify the food strains to strengthen them and provide additional nutrients as well as increasing the quality of shelf life. Tomatoes are the latest Frankensteinian veggie having fish genes added to their gene pool. Potatoes are among the newest sci-fy groups and have pig, cattle, sheep, moths and human genes...(ummmm, soylent-what?). This method has been approved by the United States Government free of any of the pesky FDA testing usually required. The 'fishy' tomato is called 'Flavr-Savr'™ and has been found successful because the product will last up to 12 weeks.
4. MORE FUTUTRE FOODS ON THE WAY
As scientist are working to genetically enhance our foods, another group of scientists are working to better enhance some of our favorite goods. The following are just a few of the changes you may see in the near future. By the year 2015 approximately 75% of all world crops will be genetically modified.
- Fruits and veggies with an extremely high vitamin C content.
- Safe low-fat potato chips free of any warning on the package.
"A flounder and a tomato walk into a bar..." YOU HAVE TO WATCH THIS VIDEO!!!
5. THE BAKING SODA EXPERIMENT
You may want to avoid using baking soda around vegetables. Baking soda is a base and many vegetables are somewhat acidic. When you mix a base and an acid, you might just end up with salt which can result in a huge loss of taste.
6. VEGETARIANISM, A TOUGH row to hoe
Being a vegetarian has become more of a marathon endeavor than ever thought. When investigating the ingredients in many favorite no-meat items, the "no-meat" becomes, "oh, meat". Beef products are used in a number of biscuit and bread products, some Nestle desserts, potato chips and many other snack foods. Max Factor lipstick and gelatin-based nutritional products also contain meat. Reading the labeling carefully can disclose the meat additives, but be sure to look closely!
7. THE END OF AN ERA
It is suspected that many of the seed companies are modifying their seeds, making them sterile following the production of a single crop. This is so the the farmers are forced to buy the new genetically modified seeds every year rather than the usual viable seeds for the up-coming years crops. Wow! Now that is a marketing plan!
8. SALAD HAS A BRAND NEW BAG
It is estimated that well over 50% of all greens sold for salads are pre-mixed and in bags. The nutritional content remains very high and has even been measured to retain the nutrient values better than greens sold whole. The whole greens which reside under display lights and receive a frequent spray to rinse them clean seem to lose some of their food value. Media in the past, had reported that the 'salad-in-a-bag' products were not safe and contained higher bacterial contamination. This was found to be untrue and no evidence was presented to support these facts. Certain crops (spinach) most recently have been recalled due to contamination, however this was found to have occurred in the field rather than in production.
9. COOKING FOR THE SAKE OF YOUR THYROID
The thyroid gland is super sensitive to certain chemicals we find in cabbage, kale, turnips, watercress and rapeseed (canola oil). Each of these crispy edibles contain a harmful chemical known as 'thioglucoside ' which might irritate or adversely affect the gland. For the sake of your thyroid gland cook these veggies and eliminate there threat as the thioglucosides are destroyed by the cooking process.
10. IS THE MICROWAVE YOUR WALLETS BEST FRIEND?
For hundreds of years we have been blanching our veggies by steaming or boiling them for 2-3 minutes. The heat inactivates enzymes that can destroy veggies allowing the goods to be stored for a longer span of time. Scientist have studied the effects of nuking your vegetables in a 700-watt microwave oven. The vegetables were placed in the microwave for about 4 minutes (adding a few spoons of water) and then placed in a plastic bag and frozen. It seems that the microwave allowed just enough heat to inactivate the enzymes that cause decay and retained the vitamin C content far better than the steamed or boiled version.
What's in an artichoke?
ARTICHOKES (bring Marilyn Monroe to mind)
When I think of artichokes I think of Marilyn Monroe, don't you? Really, no? Marilyn was the first artichoke queen being crowned so in 1949, in Castroville, California. This is also where most of the artichokes sold in the United States are grown. The artichoke is actually a flower bud of a thistle-like plant that has yet to open. The best flavor and most delicate part of this flora can be found at the very center or heart, but scraping the meat from the pedals is a wonderful treat in its own right. The flavor of the choke is derived from a chemical known as 'cyanarin ' which brings a sweet aftertaste sought by all who indulge themselves. It seems even the vegetables know a good thing because when you cook the artichoke with other veggies they grasp on to the cyanarin and take on its sweet flavor as well.
As you read on, I am going to take you on a tour of things regarding our spiky friend and introduce you to some of the finer things regarding it. Whether you are a connoisseur of the artichoke or just stepping into its culinary presence, here are three things you should know:
- The proper way to eat an artichoke
- How to keep an Artichoke Green
- Choosing the best Artichoke
1. The proper way to eat an artichoke
Whether you steam it, boil it, broil it, or braise it, there is only one proper way to eat an artichoke. To begin with, you want to pull the leaf away from the base as if you were getting ready to recite, "she loves me, she loves me not". The leaf offers a thick meatier end where you removed it at the base. This is the part you want to eat. The rest of the leaf is tough and bitter and unappealing. Holding the leaf from the opposite end or the tip, turn it so the soft pale-green tender side is placed easily to your lips. Place the leaf into your mouth and draw it over your teeth scraping the meat from the leaf bed. After you consume the leaf meat (dipping the choke leaves in butter or aioli can really add to the delightful flavor and sweet aftertaste) you will find the choke. Inside the choke are thousands of tiny-thin white silky strands (providing they have not been removed during or prior to preparation). You want to take your spoon and sweep them away being careful not to waste any of the sweet meat residing beneath them. Once removed you can eat the heart with a fork. You will find this part of the artichoke to be creamy and sweet and a masterful blend of chemistry created by mother nature.
In eating an artichoke the chemical cyanarin activates the taste buds which increase your ability to taste sweet things and will last for about 3-4 minutes following the course. Any foods consumed before you rinse your mouth will take on a sweet flavor because of this.
2. Keeping mother natures Artichoke green
The artichoke comes to us in a vibrant green package complements of mother nature herself. But when we cook our chokes they turn to a less appealing shade of brown. This is because the chlorophyll in the green leaves reacts with the acids in the artichoke or cooking water making a compound known as 'pheophytin'. You may also notice this as a bronzing tint on the surface of the leaves. We can subdue this reaction to some degree by cooking the choke rapidly. Also, soaking them for 20-30 minutes in a quart of water with about 1-1/2 tablespoons of white vinegar will stabilize the chemical that produces the color keeping them greener. This method also improves the flavor a bit. (Lemon acids cause the same reaction as vinegar, so substituting 1 lemon cut in-half works just as well.)
For the absolute best artichoke direct from the grower, call Giant Artichoke in Castroville, California at (408) 633-2778.
3. Choosing Your Artichoke wisely
- Choose the most compact tightly closed heads with the greenest leaves. Unlike some things, the size of the choke is not an indication of the quality. The thistle-like vegetable will vary from the baby sizes which are about walnut size to the big daddy's that are as large as a medium size pumpkin. Avoid any signs of mold or brown leaves.
- When the leaves have pulled away from the head and appear to be loose or are not snug, the choke is old and will taste bitter.
- Don't cook them in aluminum pans as they will turn the pan grey in color.
- Keep them covered by water during cooking as they burn easily (They are also easy to overcook).
- Do not use carbon knife blades to cut artichokes. They cause the choke to turn dark in color. Use a stainless steele bladed knife to prevent this from occurring.
- Storing your artichokes for more than 6 days will rapidly allow them to dehydrate and lose significant flavor profiles. To store them for up to 6 days, sprinkle them with a small amount of water and place them into an airtight plastic bag and keep refrigerated.
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